Thursday, 3 July 2014

To Prickwillow via Isleham Lock, River Lark and on to Ely

Another huge catch up as once again we have been unable to get internet so here goes!

Sunday 29th June
To Prickwillow via Isleham Lock on the River Lark
25 miles 0 locks

A start time of 10:00 was agreed last night and bang on time we set off, however we were not expecting this weather

This is becoming a familiar sight

Two hours earlier the sun was out, the sky was blue and I put sun cream on as did The Captain on nb Cleddau.

A succession of these went past – cruising in the dry

It rained at and rained and rained, so after 1.5 hours we pulled in the hoping that it would stop.  An hour later it eased, so off we went only for the rain to come again.  What was even more upsetting was the man on the BBC 1 o'clock news who stated that 'there had been some light showers in East Anglia in the morning!'

Next stop was Littleport for supplies and thankfully the rain has stopped.  Good moorings here.

Boatwif and I set off for the town – a good 20 minutes walk away.  There were a lot of shops, but most were closed.  We ventured in to the first one that was open, looked around, listened to the voices and decided that it was not for us – it was a Polish and did not even have a pint of milk.  Next stop and success we found newspapers, but very little else – they told us there was a Co op across the next road.  Success, a much bigger and better general store.  Mission completed we headed back to find our way barred by the level crossing – this must be one of only a few manned level crossings in the country?  The train passed through and we were nearly back at the boats and off again.

In the dry for the most part, but very windy – we had washing hanging in the cratch and I was sent down to act as a windbreak and ensure they all stayed put.  Ballast the other day and now a windbreak – whatever next?!!

Not long after leaving Littleport we turned down the River Lark and saw a lot of this

and a lot of these

But I only spotted one family

a first for me - a floating mobile home

We made it to Isleham Lock

where the language is different – slackers instead of paddles for a start

The Captain went to see what the moorings below the lock were like – the verdict no GOBA ones to be seen, but those that he found were very steep sided and not suitable for Monty, so round we went and back to Prickwillow and the Mile End Road Moorings to moor at 18:30.  A long day in not the best of conditions, but all part of the ‘joy’ of boating!

We think we now realise that had we continued on to Judes Ferry Public House we could have turned despite our books saying there was only turning for boats up to 13.7 metres.

Total stats for this cruise to date:
195.5 miles, 182 locks - the first time the miles have outnumbered the locks.

Monday 30th June 2014
To Ely
6 miles, 0 locks

What a difference a day makes – glorious sun that stayed with us for the most part until well into the evening.  First job of the day was to walk Monty, as he had been on rather short rations yesterday due to the rain.  It was not as long as we hoped – the foothpath one way was shut ‘temporarily’ by Network Rail for essential maintenance.  The sign, however, looked very old!  We went the other way past the Prickwillow Drainage Engine Museum (not open until midday)

and onto the footpath on the other side of the river.  Views over vast tracts of fenland were endless,
 but the footpath is dogs on leads only due to cattle grazing.  Still long enough and gave us a taste for the village, which has very little, but is a good place to stop just the same.

Then the short run into Ely

There were men at work on the bridge at Prickwillow 

More working reed cutting, we think, about bit further along.

Finally we are rewarded with our first view of Ely Cathedral 

Making our way in past moored boats

To find a boat leaving this mooring right opposite the marina – the only vacant one around – someone was smiling down on us

The view, however, leaves a bit to be desired!

Our neighbour is a Willow Sculptor.  By the time we had had a wander round the crane in the middle had been sold.

He even has a willow cage on his water transport.

 1st – 2nd July 2014 – Ely

A completely new place for Chris and my only experience was over 40 years ago when I spent a couple of days in the RAF hospital, which I suspect is way out of town!  So our thoughts about Ely - well we both loved it and would recommend it as a place to stop for a day or so.

There is plenty to observe

A small boat going up
  To have its bottom washed

People having fun on the river

Waterbikes- £5 for half an hour

 A ladies eight out for a practice session – Wednesday afternoon saw a lot of rowers working hard.  The Cambridge boat race crew use this stretch of water when they are in training.

 People having fun in canoes

This is to be found in Jubiliee Park _ Ely the Isle of Eels

and to my great excitement when I took Monty for a run along the river on Thursday before we set off I came across a fisherman who had just caught the real thing!  Not the best picture, but definitely an eel, which I gather was going home for his tea.

We also spotted a bride, groom and photographer, but no guests, so was it a real wedding or a photoshoot?  We will never know.  Another interesting sight spotted a couple of times – children from a local nursery being taken out for a walk – nothing unusual in that, but the transport was – a large carriage for 6 toddlers!

The Cathedral was a must – what a magnificent building.  Boatwif took the gold plated tour that took her way up into the towers, but I decided to keep my feet firmly on the ground and go for the ‘concession’ entry to the cathedral which (if you pick the right time of day) includes a free guided tour which I can recommend.  I learnt a lot and took many photos.  Two snippets of information:

1.       The stones to build the cathedral all came by boat from Peterborough – along the Nene, across the Wash and up the Great Ouse and that the bill was paid in eels.

2.       A young princess called Etheldreda wanted to become a nun, but was married off by her father. Her husband died and she was married off again.  The story goes that she had kept herself chaste through both marriages and eventually her second husband released her, so she could follow her calling.  She started the monastery for monks and nuns on the site where the cathedral now stands.  There have been many additions, repairs and alterations since those Norman days, but she was the inspiration for it all and is their patron saint.

I I have added a few photos, but they do not do it justice – it has to be visited if you are ever this way.

This ceiling was painted (bible scenes) in Victorian times by two volunteers.   They reckon it took 6 years, but about 18 months of actual work.  The first gentleman died suddenly and it is thought it might have been from lead poisoning, so his friend took over and finished the job.

There is a lot of great reading to be done 

 Victorian central heating

Where the shrine to St Etheldreda stood

Tuesday morning was started in a very civilized way – a full American breakfast (well brunch) at Grand Central sitting on their terrace in the sun

With this as the view – it is such a hard life

And an interesting line in graffiti in the toilets

There were river walks for Monty

A large green park with a huge tree that just might have had a squirrel up it

I stumbled across an Olde Sweet shop and was immediately taken back to my childhood.  Could I take a photo – ‘of course’ they said.  Do you have sweet peanuts (a childhood favourite) –‘ of course we do’.  As he was weighing out the 100g he said ‘I must tell you there are no peanuts inside anymore – they are nut free!!’  ‘Would you like to try one?’.   Either my tastes have changed or the lack of nuts was a step too far – I left with 100g of sherbet lemons.

And the chandlery was also visited and many pennies spent – we now have a flag pole for our county flag for the bow and a red duster and flag pole for the stern.  Photos will follow in due course.

It has been a wonderful couple of days blessed by lovely weather which meant a visit or two to this rather interesting and unusual ice cream van by Peacocks Tea Room, which always seemed to be busy, but we had no time to find out if they were as good as they looked.

 Boatwif had been to investigate Waterside Antiques (beside the ice cream van) on Tuesday to report they had two smallish brandy glasses for £5 (something that was lacking on our boat).  She ushered me over there on Wednesday and not only did I come away with two very nice glasses, but a 60th birthday present for a very old friend (she is two days younger than me – our Mums met in the maternity home, so my oldest friend in length of service at least!).  Not before time as she is 63 this year!!  Sorry you have had to wait so long Jane, but I hope the wait has been worth it!  All we need to do now is agree to meet up as it is not something I can post.  Any chance you and Jem can come and join us for a bit of a cruise and ceremonial handing over before our next birthdays!?

A very special event for us – Boatwif commented the other day that her camera had informed her she was in (well near) Bury St Edmonds.  My ears pricked up as we had no idea we were that close and we have friends there we have not seen in 13 years.  A quick phone call and it was all arranged – they would come over on Tuesday evening and we went to The Cutter Inn (just along the river front and by Grand Central as well) where a very good meal was enjoyed by us all.  Better than we had expected and the prices were reasonable to.  It was so good to see you both again, Jilly and Bobby and to able to show off our pride and joy.  We must not leave it 13 years until we meet again.
 If you come this way try to have enough time for at least two days here.  The only downside for me – no internet from either phone or dongle although Cleddau has had plenty of signal – I think we need to look at what we have and maybe make some changes.

The 1st of July was Tentatrice’s first birthday and in that year we have done 598 locks and travelled 397.5 miles.

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